Dutch museums worried about climate activists pouring soup on paintings
Climate activists throwing cans of soup on paintings or gluing themselves to picture frames are currently a “hot topic” in the Dutch museum world. “We are concerned about preserving our cultural heritage. It’s the talk of the town. We understand climate activists want to take action, but we are against this method because it can cause major damage. We have not yet received any signals from museums that have suffered damage,” the Museum Association said on Tuesday.
The Museum Association, the sector organization for all museums in the Netherlands, has not yet given museums advice on preventing possible actions. “That is very difficult because every museum has its own security measures and policy. It is clear that until now, there was no need to check for the smuggling of cans of soup and that museums are now looking more closely. In most museums, visitors must place big bags in a locker at the entrance,” said the Museum Association.
Many museums, like the Rijksmuseum, the Kröller-Müller Museum, and the Van Abbemuseum, don’t want to make any statements about security. “We don’t want to educate anyone about our security,” said the Kröller-Müller Museum. “That could also give art thieves an idea.” The Van Gogh Museum said that it always takes measures to guarantee the safety of the art and visitors. “We closely monitor developments that affect this, such as these actions.”
According to the Museum Association, almost all works of art in Dutch museums are well protected. Sometimes they are behind special museum glass, but not always. That is also the case at the Marutishuis. “We understand the climate activists. They advocate for the preservation of nature. But we are in favor of preserving our cultural heritage. Unfortunately, these actions affect works of art,” said the Mauritshuis. The Haagse Kunstmuseum is discussing additional measures this week but would not provide further insight.
Activists from Just Stop Oil have been throwing food over art or gluing themselves to artworks to draw attention to the climate crisis. On Monday, activists from Just Stop Oil went to Madame Tussauds in London and daubed the wax figure of King Charles with cake. They’ve poured a can of tomato soup on a Vincent van Gogh painting and smeared mashed potatoes on a Monet. Activists have also glued themselves to works of art several times.
On Tuesday evening, Jelle de Graaf of the climate action group Extinction Rebellion glued himself to the table of the RTL talk show Jinek.
Reporting by ANP